Why You Should Be Determined to Read Your To-Be-Read Collection

Your to-be-read pile is huge. You get more books in the mail than you have time to read, so you have to make choices about what you’re going to read next, when you’re going to read it, or if you’re going to read it at all. It’s easy to put off reading the next one because there are so many books in front of it! Here are some tips on how to be determined to read your TBR list, whether it’s ten books or three hundred!

What is a TBR pile?

A TBR pile is a collection of books you plan on reading, but haven’t yet read. Some people keep them on their nightstands while others use boxes, baskets, or drawers. These piles accumulate books that were meant to be read at some point but haven’t been read yet because they were purchased before they were even published or donated by friends and family as birthday gifts. No matter how many excuses there are for your pile of unread titles—they’re too big, there are too many, you don’t have time—the main thing standing in your way is simply not being determined enough.

What if I have multiple TBR piles?

If you have multiple TBR piles, don’t sweat it! Start with one—maybe your stack of books on your nightstand. Then, once you read and review that book, move on to another pile. Or start reading from whatever book happened to catch your eye when you were planning out your TBR for the month. You could also sort by genre or author, and start with a different section of your TBR pile each month. Whatever you do, just remember: there’s no reason why in order to finish reading all those unread books on your shelf, you can’t simply read them from whichever list they happen to be on.

I have other things to do with my time!

If you are always running from one thing to another, leaving little time for pleasure reading, then maybe it’s time you reevaluate how you spend your free time. What exactly do you need or want? Are there things that matter more than indulging in a good read? If not, consider putting your energy toward accomplishing what matters most. Once you get that taken care of, then treat yourself and pick up a book!

Before starting, take stock of what you already own

Don’t just look at how many books you own—really, honestly take a moment to think about what they are. When I began working on my to-be-read pile, I came across several titles I hadn’t thought about in years—so even if you don’t feel as though you have an intimidating number of books yet, it never hurts to step back and take a clear look at your collection. This will also help you keep track of your progress (or lack thereof) as time goes on. Keep an organized list: When faced with the magnitude of your TBR list, it can be tempting to give up before you even start.

Set up an easy way to track what you're reading

Whether you use an app or a spreadsheet, having some way of tracking what you’re reading and how much time you’re spending on each book is helpful in keeping your progress moving along. If you aren’t interested in going through every detail with a spreadsheet, apps like Goodreads can track how much time you spend on each book. (They also let you add ratings and notes as well.) No matter what method works for you, adding a little structure—even if it seems tedious at first—is key for staying committed to reading. If anything, getting started is more difficult than continuing; once your tracking system is set up and your books are listed, it becomes easier to just keep plugging away at it. After all, motivation begets motivation!

Keep track of what you've read

If you're like most readers, then you have a collection of books waiting for your attention. Maybe it's a pile of titles that have been sitting on your nightstand for weeks or maybe it's an overflowing shelf of hardcovers and paperbacks that you know deep down you should get around to reading. The question is: How can you get motivated? How can you decide which book is worth your time and which ones are not? That all depends on how much pressure (or determinism, if we want to get technical) you put on yourself. Now, some may say there's no problem with being truly undecided about what novel to read next—it could be an idea-sparking time!

Gather inspiration from social media accounts on Instagram and Twitter

When you follow people who have similar interests as you, it is much easier to be inspired. You can look at their bookshelves and see what they read. Check out some bookstores and libraries near you. They usually have a huge variety of books from different genres that can help in your inspiration for new books to read. It’s also a good idea to check out some online bookstores such as Amazon and B&N. With these sites, you can easily find out which are currently popular or trending books at any given time. This information will be helpful because it will allow you to make better choices on your reading materials.

Share pictures of your progress online (Optional)

A popular method is to take pictures of your growing stacks and share them on Instagram (@librotherapy) and Facebook. I will probably start doing that once or twice a month, but you don't have to post your current number every time. It's more fun to look back at how far you've come over a period of time, so that's why you only share progress photos every few months or whenever it is convenient for you of course. However, your mileage may vary on that. If you'd like to share your reading progress each week (or month), by all means, go for it! There are no rules here! This is YOUR challenge!

Reward yourself for meeting certain goals (Optional)

Once you meet your goal, celebrate! Whether it’s a reward of going out for ice cream or giving yourself a new bookmark, get some kind of treat for sticking with your goals. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-reward every now and then. The rewards will keep you motivated to continue reading and reaching new goals.

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